By GWEN OREL
There was a theme at the Jury Award presentation Saturday night: truth-telling is more important than ever.
The awards ceremony was held at MFF’s new home, Cinema505, The Investors Bank Film & Media Center.
Audience awards were announced on Monday.
MFF’s Artistic Director Tom Hall introduced the junior jury, made up of 15 high school students from 12 area schools, and said that they debated for hours. The Junior Jury awarded their top prize to “Elián,” directed by Tim Golden.
Raphaela Neihausen, one of the jurors for the New Jersey Films Award, said of “ACORN and the Firestorm,” which won “The American Truth Seeker Award,” the film’s prescience is necessary “in an age of fake news and truthiness.”
Erin Carr, the late David Carr’s daughter, presented the David Carr Award for Truth in Non-Fiction Filmmaking. Carr said, “It’s a really hard year for truth.” Pancho Velez and Sierra Pettingill accepted the David Carr Award for their documentary “The Reagan Show.”
The Bruce Sinofsky Award for Truth in Storytelling was presented by Claire Sinofsky, the late documentary filmmaker’s daughter.
“Documentaries highlight the need for honest storytelling in this unstable climate,” Sinofsky said.
Director Yance Ford received the award for his documentary “Strong Island.” Ford said his film is a “reflection of the fact that truth is complicated.”
This year’s festival featured four competitive categories with five films in each: Fiction, Documentary, Future/ Now, and New Jersey Filmmaking. The 2017 festival featured over 150 feature and short films screened over 10 days.
The full list of jury winners:
Fiction Feature Award: “Lady Macbeth,” directed by William Oldroyd. Special Jury Prize: Florence Pugh, for her performance in “Lady Macbeth.”
Bruce Sinofsky Award for Documentary Feature: “Strong Island,” directed by Yance Ford. Special Jury Prize for Direction: Matthew Heineman, for “City of Ghosts.”
Future/Now prize: “Beach Rats,” directed by Eliza Hitman
New Jersey Films Award: “Swim Team,” directed by Lara Stolman
American Truth Seeker Award: “ACORN & the Firestorm,” directed by Reuben Atlas and Samuel D. Pollard
David Carr Award for Truth in Non-Fiction Filmmaking: “The Reagan Show”
Audience Awards: Fiction:
“Maudie,” directed by Aisling Walsh.
Documentary: “Dolores,” directed by Peter Brett.
World Cinema: “Clash,” directed by Mohamed Diab.
Short Film: “Edith + Eddie,” directed by Laura Checkoway.
Junior Jury: Special Prize for Innovative Filmmaking, “Casting JonBenet,” directed by Kitty Green.
Jury Prize: “Elián,” directed by Tim Golden.